After building a slow and steady identity since 2019's Our Day Will Come Ep, the debut album from Los Angeles' five-piece Zulu comes as a masterclass in genre blending.. Across its 15 tracks (and svelt 30-minute runtime), A New Tomorrow incorporates influences ranging from hardcore and the uncompromising powerviolence genre to reggae, jazz, and hip-hop.
As a whole, the album immerses listeners into a panoramic depiction of Black American culture and experience, utilizing interludes of spoken word, soulful melodies, and ultra-heavy breakdowns. At times both furious and hopeful, Zulu and A New Tomorrow signify a dramatic step forward for contemporary heavy music.
The opening track on A New Tomorrow, Africa, sets the tone with a haunting instrumental swelling from humble orchestral beginnings. From there, the album explodes into For Sista Humphrey. This pure hardcore track showcases Zulu's ability to blend intense and heavy sounds with a funk-inspired bassline. The furious Our Day Is Now is then a standout featuring a spoken word interlude a la Bad Brains; its powerful chorus speaks to the band's message of hope and unity.
Zulu's ability to seamlessly transition between genres is further evident in Music To Driveby, which descends into a sample of Curtis Mayfield's We People Who Are Darker Than Blue. Where I'm From features collaborations with Pierce Jordan and Obioma Ugonna and is a further statement on the band's roots and identity (“Blessed in my own skin/I will not bruise”).
Lead single Fakin' Tha Funk (You Get Did) is a minute-long burst of intensity that packs a punch with heavy riffs and call-and-response screams ("Everyone wants to be Black, but nobody really wants to be Black"). The instrumental Shine Eternally is another standout track that showcases the band's ability to create a soulful and atmospheric soundscape through its infectious groove. At nearly 3 minutes, it is also one of the most extended tracks on the album and a perfect example of both stylistic and tonal juxtapositions featured across A New Tomorrow. Similarly, Must I Only Share My Pain then features a spoken word interlude that adds further layers of introspection to the album. Créme De Cassis By Aleisia Miller & Precious Tucker is a smooth and jazzy interlude that provides a pause before the album's explosive second half. It is also the clearest example of Zulu's approach to highlighting Black triumph. In stark contrast to much of the media's focus on its pain ("Why is Black discourse always about precipitation while ignoring the sweet scent of petrichor after rain?".)
The second half of A New Tomorrow kicks off with We're More Than This - a track that speaks to the band's message of unity and empowerment through its hip-hop-inspired verses from guitarist Dez Yusef ("I might get off from the whites not 'cause I'm embarrassed off; they don't just deserve my ascent to use, for their character / And turn around and treat me like I'm their caricature"). The appropriately titled 52 Fatal Strikes is another standout track due to its bone-shattering riffs and powerful screams. As is Divine Intervention with its brutal, chugging riffs and ferocious urgency. The album closes with Who Jah Bless No One Curse, a powerful statement on the band's faith and resilience in the face of adversity. A take on Bob Marley's Small Axe ("If you are the big tree / We are the small axe / Ready to cut you down"), it may be the album’s most multi-dimensional track.
With A New Tomorrow, Zulu has established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the world of hardcore and powerviolence. Though each track is essentially bite-sized at sub-2-minutes, the album remains a powerful statement on the ever-complicated Black American experience that thunders through genre, sentiment, and musicianship. If you listen to one hardcore/metalcore-adjacent album this year, make it A New Tomorrow.